I read this post yesterday and I started thinking about all sorts of things...how I practice self care today, how in my earlier lives I had no clue about caring for mySELF; what that even meant or how it applied to me. First of all, let me just say that as difficult as it is for so many women in western cultures to practice self care...in my culture it is not only a completely foreign concept but women who do so are reviled. Worst...they can be killed.
*BTW, I just heart Susannah...how she just puts it out there in the most casual + adorable way.
In my very early twenties I was too busy surviving emotionally + mentally. Physically too. I had moved out on my own, was in University full time and working 40+ hours a week. I was also trying to cope with the aftermath of my horrendous family life/childhood, put myself through school plus... figure out life. SELF care never even occurred to me. During the summers I worked outrageous hours and spent lavishly on mySELF...buying Italian shoes, expensive clothing, art and wooden sculptures that I really couldn't afford. But it was my way of covering up all of my pain instead of processing it. I wore this heavy mask because I was terrified to show my real self to anyone...especially to mySELF. I had no idea who I was or wanted to be. I only saw mySELF through distorted mirrors; fragments and shards. Other people's perceptions, pains and discontent.
Then...in my mid twenties I went the other way completely...or so it seemed. I simplified...every 6 months I gave away half of all my stuff. I lived in an ashram for many many months. I tried to live a somewhat austere life...still... with art + books + music but I got rid of everything else. My adage was..if I can't carry it ...it's gotta' go! Which was good because one year...I moved 10 times! Eeeek! I would meet some guy somewhere, fell madly "in love" and then ...I would just disappear. I hurt a lot of people...myself included. I would feel in my heart that I had to go somewhere and then just pick up and go. Always running away...from mySELF. It was such a painful time but...also full of growth and new experiences.
Then...when I turned 30 and spent 4 months on a solo pilgrimage through India...I started on my creative path. Painting, photography, writing...all gave me an avenue to share my stories and work my way to the heart of who I was. Once I put paint to paper, I felt that I started nourishing mySELF and paying attention to what I wanted; my true self.
Still...it would be many more years before I actually began to take care of mySELF in any real way. Somewhere in my mid thirties, a number of long term relationships came to an end all at once and the circumstances where so similar that I had to sit up and take notice. I had to learn how to set boundaries ( a foreign concept up until that time!!). So...slowly I was learning how to practice kindness and self care. Fast forward to when I became a mom and everything kicked into high gear exponentially. Here was my precious daughter who needed every ounce of me to be as healthy and together as possible...no more time for bullshit! Everything just fell away...pretense, masks, walls. Everything! I simply wasn't going to tolerate meanness and ugliness in my life anymore. While I know that everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment...I wasn't going to invite/allow unkindness into my life . My priorities changed, I kicked guilt to the curb, severed unhealthy ties and I actually started taking care of me. Friends, this was a radical concept to me!!!
I started my blog when Tara was about a year old and it gave me a voice...it strengthened me. Of course I didn't know it at the time but it was a life line leading me to center. Today...I want to be seen. For who I really am. I am shedding baggage (it's a process!!) and living inside the heart of my truth. Sure...I pamper myself too...a really extravagant hand lotion, a Godiva truffle when I want one, taking a tech break, spending an ungodly amount of money on books (which I don't regret for even one second). But that's all icing on the cake...for me, it's not the cake! SELF care now means being healthy(exercising + eating right), being true to what I want, defining success for mySELF , being comfortable with all aspects of mySELF (ugly parts and all). It means setting boundaries, showing respect and kindness. It means believing in me. Not going along with what I don't believe or hiding who I really am. It means...being real. For so much of my life I went just went along feigning ignorance, always making excuses for others. But it only led me into a dark corner feeling very isolated. So now...self care is a practice that I have to constantly work at; I ask for what I need, speak my truth and sure...I buy a pair of boots now and then:)